After a serious boating accident in 2016, Cherie Grant has her life back on track thanks to a lot of family and medical support, an incredibly positive attitude and some help from disability employment service provider Maxima.
The outgoing 24-year-old from Perth was on a charter boat heading for Rottnest Island on Australia Day in 2016. The boat’s operator allowed passengers to go for a swim while he tried to fix an engine problem, but when the engine restarted Cherie’s legs were sucked into the propeller.
She suffered severe cuts and a broken ankle, and was confined to a wheelchair for the next three months. Intensive physiotherapy helped to slowly restore movement in her legs and ankles.
Cherie says that physically, she has made “pretty much a full recovery” but the accident continued to have lasting effects on her mental health. “Mentally it did more than I thought it would. I had post-traumatic stress disorder and got anxiety out of nowhere. I didn’t want to leave the house or be around people.”
Recovering her mental health kept Cherie out of the workforce for two years, despite many times telling her GP and her parents that she was bored and just wanted to get back to work in hospitality or retail.
“Having time off after the accident was definitely what I needed. If I had gone straight back into work, I think it would have made things worse.”
But getting back into work brought about a whole new set of challenges.
“After taking two years off, I didn’t have the most impressive-looking resume for a 24-year-old. And I couldn’t even contact my former boss in a karaoke bar where I worked for three years before the accident. I couldn’t get a reference so it looked like I hadn’t worked in five years,” Cherie said.
Cherie made the decision to get support from Maxima, which opened for business in WA on 2 July.
She said having Maxima go into bat for her and talk to potential employers about her recovery from the accident made all the difference.
She said her employment consultant, Ash, had been in the industry for ages and employers trusted her. “So when she vouches for me and says I can do a job really well it means so much more than me sending in a written application. Most of the time, you don’t even get interviews where you can show employers you are super capable.”
Happily, Maxima were able to find a role quickly. Cherie has a job she loves at a tavern, where she works 25 to 30 hours a week in bistro and bar service.
“I am just so happy to have a job, and I do love it there. It’s just enough hours for me, and they have been really good and super accommodating.”
Cherie said finding the job through Maxima had completed a big turnaround for her since the accident.
“For a really long time, I would get so down about not having a job and I would think my life would never get back on track. I would cry about it and have full blown panic attacks, but it’s so good to feel like everything is back on track. I don’t think about the accident anymore, which is the nicest thing about finding work.”
Find out more about Maxima’s Disability Employment Services